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Google Nexus 4 review

Luke Johnson

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Reviewed:

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  • Recommended by TR
Google Nexus 4

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Staggeringly low price tag
  • Android 4.2
  • Great Screen

Cons

  • Camera could be improved
  • Just five homescreens
  • Memory not expandable

Key Features

  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 4.7-inch WXGA IPS display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU
  • Manufacturer: LG
  • Review Price: £239.00

Google Nexus 4 update

Whether it’s in anticipation of the Nexus 5, or a response to the much rumoured arrival of the iPhone 5C, the Nexus 4 is available to buy for £159. That’s an £80 price cut on the Nexus 8GB model dropping from £239. The price of the 16GB Nexus 4 has also dropped from £279 to £199. To put that into perspective, the quad-core powered Android smartphone is now around the same price as the Nokia Lumia 620.

The Windows Phone 8-running handset is one of the best cheap mobile phones to buy right now, but the Nexus 4 is a great Android alternative. Yes, we know it is only 8GB, but when you consider the great 4.7-inch WXGA IPS display, the fact it runs on Android 4.3 and that sleek, premium design, there’s even more reason to recommend this as one of the best Android phones to buy.

Google Nexus 4 Video Review

Want to see more of the Google Nexus 4? Sit back and watch our video.

MORE: Nexus 6 release date, rumours, features, specs and price

Google Nexus 4 Android 4.3 review

Announced alongside the Nexus 7 2, Android 4.3 is the latest flavour of Google’s Jelly Bean operating system and has been rolling out to Nexus smartphones and tablets.

We’ve already taken a look at Android 4.3 on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus so now we turn our attention to Android 4.3 on the Nexus 4.

The incremental update focuses on making performance improvements including triple buffering, reduced touch latency for gamepads, Bluetooth Smart support, CPU input boost, and a version of Project Butter that runs even smoother. There are some more noticeable upgrades with changes made to the camera app, keyboard and notifications.

There have been some stories about Nexus 4 handsets crashing during the installation process, but we can safely say that the Nexus 4 successfully updated to Android 4.3 with no stability issues whatsoever.

It still offers a slick, fluid experience when swiping through homescreens and a zippy web browsing performance. It still gets a little warm up top where the CPU is located but there’s no sign of the overheating that some Nexus 4 users have complained about.

One of the main areas that Android 4.3 has addressed is the camera app. The on-screen menu system has been redesigned with a new arch shaped look. The volume rocker now acts as a camera trigger and Photo Sphere improves image stitching and exposure levels.

The new menu system makes it much easier and quicker to adjust advanced settings when taking a photo. Photo Sphere is still not the finished article and images can still look a little disjointed in places but there is a notable improvement in the final results.

Some Nexus 4 users have noticed a drop in performance in the gaming department, specifically on less demanding games like Candy Crush. Running the Epic Citadel benchmark tests on the Android 4.3 Nexus 4, it scores a 49.2 average FPS. The Nexus 4 running on Android 4.2.2 in comparison scores a 53.3 average FPS. Clearly there is a difference in the numbers, in reality though giving Candy Crush a play, we didn’t notice any frame rate issues.

Android 4.3 introduces a smarter notifications system offering a greater variety of options to deal with calendar appointments or reminders when they pop up in the notifications bar. Everything appears to be working order here however we did notice that email notifications no longer appear. This has been something reported by some users, so it’s clear this is an issue to be addressed.

Among the other notable features worth pointing out, there’s now a Dialpad Autocomplete to speed up your day-to-day phone use. You can simply start typing a number and matching contacts will appear above. It’s a minor tweak but one that some will find beneficial.

On the whole, Android 4.3 on the Nexus 4 improves an already great Android phone. It tinkers with key features introduced in the first Android Jelly Bean version to great effect. We can confirm a clean bill of health a week from installing and it’s should do more good than bad based on our experiences with the latest Jelly Bean instalment.

Check out all the latest about the Nexus 5 release date, rumours, news, price and specs.

Introduction

The latest addition to Google’s own branded range of Nexus devices, the Google Nexus 4 is manufactured by LG but has the search giant at its core, from the full collection of pre-installed Google applications to the newly revised Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS.

Although previous Nexus handsets have looked to push the boundaries of the smartphone sector, introducing a collection of new high-end specs previously unseen on portable devices, the Google Nexus 4 has taken a slightly different approach, incorporating a collection of premium specs found on market leading handsets within a body that pleasingly falls at a mid-range price point.

Featuring a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768p display, the Google Nexus 4 is on par with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 5 in terms of on-paper specs yet lines up roughly half the price of either device. Available in 8GB and 16GB storage forms, the Google Nexus 4 price starts at a hugely impressive £239, whilst the higher capacity handset lines up at just £279, figures that see the handset as a more wallet-friendly option than the far inferior Sony Xperia P, Motorola Razr i and BlackBerry Bold 9790.

Google Nexus 4 Design

Far from the most desirable handset on the market, the Google Nexus 4 is still somewhat of a looker with relatively svelte design lines and few blemishes detracting from an overall appearance that appeals for the most part but which fails to provide the ‘wow’ factor.

Standard stock black smartphone fair, the Google Nexus 4 design is spruced up by a disco ball effect back that offers a little sparkle to the device. Whilst this feature will not appeal to all, perhaps proving too jazzy or feminine for some, the break from the lifeless black form of the rest of the device is a welcome one and a move which helps, marginally, set the handset apart from a number of its similarly uneventful mid-range counterparts.

Thanks to the handset’s flat black and slick finish, the Google Nexus 4 is someway from being the most comfortable device in the hand. At 4.7-inches in size, despite being just 9.1mm thick, the Google Nexus 4 can feel somewhat clunky with the lack of curves offering a slightly un-ergonomic fit. Despite this slightly awkward stance, however, thanks to rubberised edging, the latest Nexus handset never feels like running the risk of making a premature escape from the hand.

Although feeling safe if somewhat uncomfortable in the hand, the Google Nexus 4 is anything but secure when placed on all but the flattest of surfaces. A niggle that will be familiar to any former or current iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S handset owners, due to the rather plasticy feeling glass backing of the Google Nexus 4, the Android 4.2 device seems intent on making an unwanted sliding exit when placed down on anything other than a perfectly flat, hard surface such as a desktop.

Again in very Apple-esque fashion, and somewhat against the grain of the majority of Android powered handsets, the Google Nexus 4 does not feature a removable back plate, scrapping the option of microSD memory expansion and seeing the handset’s micro SIM inserted via a pop-out side-mounted SIM tray. Another seeming homage to Apple.

With well thought-out button placements ensuring that accidental presses of the physical volume controls or sleep-turn-power button - the only physical buttons found on the device - are avoided when holding the handset in either a landscape or portrait manner, the Google Nexus 4 sadly isn’t without its own hand hitches. When holding the handset in a landscape stance to play app-based games, the Google Nexus 4’s light sensor falls under the hand, causing the device to frequently, unnecessarily, and rather annoyingly, auto adjust the screen’s brightness.

Google Nexus 4 Screen

One of the handset’s many party piece selling points, the Google Nexus 4 screen is a large, expansive, vibrant offering that makes movie absorption on the move a joy and daily tasks an eye appeasing breeze.

At 4.7-inches in size, the 1280 x 768p WXGA IPS Google Nexus 4 screen is just 0.1-inches smaller than the market leading Samsung Galaxy S3, but no less visually impressive. With a pixel-per-inch density higher than that of its Android powered rival, the 320ppi offering of the new Nexus is topped only by the 326ppi image density of the iPhone 5’s Retina display.

With sharp, vibrant colours ensuring that the Google Nexus 4 is a device as comfortable and accomplished at multimedia playback as it is general use, the screen’s expansive viewing angles tick yet another box on the desired features list. Handling extreme viewing angles with aplomb, the Google Nexus 4 screen helps make the device one which can, if desired, be used to share video in a group situation with a couple on a long train journey more than capable of comfortable watching a movie on the device with little concern for performance depleting angle issues.

Partnering with the handset’s 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor to produce one of the most responsive handset’s on the market, there were occasions when we were forced to take a second stab at registering a link selection whilst on the browser but this is a niggle that we are attributing to the browser more than the screen. That said, the Google Nexus 4 comfortably features one of the most visually impressive smartphones screens currently available at a mid-range price point.

More than just a visually impressive offering, the Google Nexus 4 screen is a reassurance to more clumsy users with the Corning Gorilla Glass 2 coating ensuring that the device is protected against the unavoidable collection of knocks, drops and bumps that accompany any handset’s lifespan. Whilst we didn’t subject the Google Nexus 4’s screen to too much rough treatment during our time with the device, placed in a pocket for a couple of days with a collection of coins and keys, the device showed no physical or image depleting sign of the continued and unwanted contact.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

ElectricSheep

November 7, 2012, 4:46 pm

Great to read a review in the review section! ;)

I am having to fight the impulse to buy one of these even though I have just bought a Razr i XT890 a couple of weeks ago. (Which I absolutely love using, v.good camera & fantastic battery life & construction).

The only downside is the lack of MicroSD card which, even I will forgive Google for at this price. I have been banging on for years about how mobile phone hardware is massively over priced, ZTE & now Google are really turning the industry on it's head.

I think Google's aggressive move into hardware will result in a win-win for the consumer, forcing other manufacturers to revise their margins, and maybe app developers will benefit too? If the hardware's cheaper, I am more prepared to pay higher prices for the quality apps that I want to use.

Anyway, I think Google has done everyone (consumers) a favour here.

gdawg304

November 7, 2012, 6:21 pm

@ ElectricSheep "Great to read a review in the review section! ;)" as opposed to a preview in the review section? I agree! It's always confusing to click into a review only to find it's a two page preview instead of a definitive review. :)

This phone at this price is almost enough to tempt me to go for a bigger handset (Can't say I'd really want one more than 4", really), plus an unlimited data plan on a 30 day contract on Three or Giffgaff (with HSPA+ up to 42Mbps)....who needs Apple and EE with their extortionate prices (says an iPhone 4 user disappointed at the boring iPhone 5 and the data caps of EE)?

gdawg304

November 7, 2012, 8:21 pm

What's the sound quality like for music playback through earphones...especially high-end ones like Shure SE535?

iPhone 4 is pretty good, I read that the S3 has a slight hiss....

Would buying a Nexus 4 mean a return to carrying a separate music device (I've got a Cowon S9 which does sound better than the iPhone, but the latter is good enough that I can't justify carrying both)?

scaramanga89

November 10, 2012, 5:31 pm

"the 320ppi offering of the new Nexus is topped only by the 326ppi image density of the iPhone 5's Retina display. "

Bested again by the Nokia Lumia 920 at 332ppi, does that not count as a current phone?

Steve 28

November 11, 2012, 7:30 pm

The battery-life issue is a real problem for me. Suppose I'm out all day in London using maps and making a few calls. The battery runs out at 7pm say: what do I do? I can't put in a spare battery because it's not user-replaceable. That's a deal-breaker - shame because otherwise it's a good phone. Why can't they make it 1mm thicker and fit a bigger battery? Sorry Google, I'll stick with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus for a while longer.

masterpfa

November 12, 2012, 5:47 pm

shooting
3. Battery - if it doesn't last as long as I would like I will purchase a battery booster, many options available from 2200mAh to 1000mAh

The plus points for me far outweigh any of these with the primary pluses being Pure Google experience and price

Uriah Romero

December 26, 2012, 6:34 pm

I bought a Nexus 4 a few weeks ago and I love it. It was nice that I
didn’t have to sign a two-year contract. One of my favorite things about the
phone is the beautiful screen. For example, I use the DISH Remote Access app on
my phone so that I can stream live TV through the Sling Adapter that I have
connected to my receiver at home. I use the app most when I can’t be at home to
watch my shows, which is often, and the gorgeous display only helps. One of my
DISH coworkers also bought a Nexus 4 and they love theirs just as much as I do.

Stoffers

December 28, 2012, 6:33 pm

"due to the rather plasticy feeling glass backing of the Google Nexus 4"
How does glass feel like plastic? I can't seem to wrap my head around it as I feel the back of this phone feels quite slick and solid, like glass.

"features one of the most visually impressive smartphones screens currently available at a mid-range price point."
Not to be nit-picky but what other mid range phone goes toe to toe with this screen that this is not THE most impressive at this price point?
I've had the phone over a month, must say it was an excellent buy, especially with the whole selling out thing. Best phone I've ever used by far.

A.Doc

January 15, 2013, 1:05 pm

Best phone I've owned!

It looks and feels like a much more expensive phone than the iPhone, the UI is massivley improved, and it's very slick to use. The screen is a bit big for one handed use, but it's actually big enough to do a lot of things I could only do on my tablet before, so it's well worth the sacrifice. It fits very easily into a pocket as it's so slim.

The only two problems are the battery life and the slippery back. The battery will last just about a whole day, but I find myself using it more, particularly leaving the GPS running and switching of Wi-fi more, so it probably would actually beat my old SE Neo V if I was more careful. The glass back looks and feels very classy, but it constantly slides off any suface that isn't completely flat.

A pretty minor irritation for a very good phone. The first time I can convincingly say an Android device is better than an iPhone, and if Google Cards became more comprehensive and a bit slicker, then it would even further ahead.

Tania Jones

January 24, 2013, 11:20 am

purchased this phone direct from Google, waited 7 weeks for delivery and when the phone arrived the wifi would not work! Had a similar problem with the Galaxy S3 which was sold as soon as the fault was repaired (the fault occurred within 3 weeks of purchase and it took 6 weeks to be repaired) Interesting that both have quad-core processors. Never had this problem with any other phone irrespective of OS. The phone is being returned for a refund.

Marc

May 29, 2013, 2:33 pm

Google Play sucks on there shipment I order a phone on the 25th pay for 1-2 day shipping $13.99 and the 29th received on e-mail saying they were going to be ship soon. I called the support someone answers the phone out there house, asked me several questions then told me that I should be receiving a tracking number soon.
This is ridiculous not only violate Florida laws for deceptive trading practice but bad customer relation. This whole thing is costing me stress & money since my work depend on a good phone. VERY BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE !!!!

Elliot

July 8, 2013, 5:07 pm

And the HTC DNA, and J Butterfly.

Jeffrey Michaels

July 17, 2013, 5:41 pm

Do not buy this phone. It has issues getting and maintaining a strong signal with the carrier. Read the Android forums for additional info on this problem that Google has not fixed. I'm on my 2nd phone with the same problem. Google will not refund my purchase after 14 days. It is not worth the risk to purchase this phone.

Bibilu

July 22, 2013, 10:13 am

Have been using Nexus regularly for last 3 months. Pros & cons.

Pros - Battery backup lasts for a day under normal usage with 2G network. WIFI or 3G usage consumes more battery. Processor is fast enough to run my daily apps(nova launcher/weather forecast/browser/outlook client/gmail apps/reminders/alarm/pdf reader) without any lag.

Cons - Ear phone speaker is placed on the top most edge which makes if difficult to hold and talk. If i hold speaker close to ear then mouth stays far away from mic(placed in bottom side) which makes the sound less audible to the receiver. Another major drawback is power button. It is getting worse day-by-day and does not turn off/on easily without a hard press. Camera quality is so bad. Even HD images look so average. I guess these are one-off issue with my mobile. Kindly confirm if anyone else face the same issues.

Praveen

July 26, 2013, 11:09 am

Hi, I am using Google Nexus 4, recently i am facing a problem 1 out off 2 calls i am able to here the opposite voice, but they are unable to here my voice. hope mic problem, some times if i press load speaker only i am able to here incoming voice calls or else speaker is also not working its only happening some times.

Tom

July 26, 2013, 5:53 pm

best phone I've ever had but the slightis drop will crack it and will unable you to use touch screen. I've broken 2 within 3 months one time I feel out of a lawnchair (2 feet from ground) second time I was walking back form the beach and it was in my towel and fell out and drop about 2 1/2 feet.

I'm going to have to go back to the samsung galaxy :(

Kell Spade

August 2, 2013, 5:06 am

Is this phone suppose to heat up? Lol like its hot, hope I don't blow up!

TomN'Jerry

August 20, 2013, 10:44 am

I am really very disappointed with LG Google Nexus 4, as I had the same problem with Kell Spade, then my phone died within less than 3 weeks after purchasing it. Recently when I was using whatsapp, my phone died all the sudden, I thought the phone ran out of battery, but tried to charged it there was no charging sign. Tried to switch on couldn't get it back on this time. This problem has been going on for sometime now. I have to go to LG service center which takes up quiet a lot of time getting stuck in traffic and they have no idea what's the problem. No doubt is still under warranty, but is kind of time consuming going up and down just to fix the phone or get it replace. Plus I don't even install a lot of apps.

Guest

August 28, 2013, 9:22 am

Google have reduced both versions of the Nexus 4 by £80. So now £159 for the 8GB and £199 for the 16GB. Unbeatable value.

David Smythe

August 28, 2013, 3:10 pm

I get the logic (kind of) behind Google's choice to slash the price of the Nexus 4, but I don't know whether it will really tempt buyers. The competition is just too tough. Have a look at this comparison with the Galaxy S4. The Nexus has some serious competition. It's going to be interesting to see how it does!

Pg

August 29, 2013, 10:41 am

Comparison with the S4? You obviously aren't talking about price as the S4 is wayyyy more expensive. Nexus 4 has to be the best bang for your buck. Like everything else in life, while the S4 is better, you pay a large premium for the few extra benefits it gives.

An SD slot and it'd be hard to most people to justify getting a different phone. I'd still like a radio on a Nexus phone myself.

Abhishek Gupta

August 30, 2013, 12:51 am

Google Play support is very very poor , you may need to wait more than 1 hr and if there is any issue with shipping (damaged or device stolen). you will be in great mess. Think twice before placing order.............

Qiaoling Huang

August 30, 2013, 3:49 pm

It is the worst phone I ever used. it have all kind of problems. It keeps shutting down for overheating or no reason. They sent me a replacement which is another broken phone. Also the google play support sucks!I have never been so pissed off!

mordraid

September 9, 2013, 1:17 am

I just bought a Nexus4 Friday. It cut out on conversations after 1-2 minutes. Fully charged but just went dead. I hope this is not an omen.

Guest

September 9, 2013, 4:57 pm

Errm, only 5 homescreens isn't a con. Just download nova launcher and you can have 9, or 1.

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